Bill to be heard Wednesday to create work programs for unemployed homeless adults

Legislation aimed at helping homeless people find jobs will be heard on today in the state Senate. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Hans Zeiger, would create a work program for unemployed homeless adults.  

Senate Bill 5261, which is scheduled for a hearing today at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability Committee, would create a three-city pilot program to conduct outreach among the local homeless population and provide job opportunities via local beautification and community cleanup projects. Participants would be paid the state minimum wage and be referred to housing providers with wraparound services.

“This is a great way to help individuals who are homeless get back on their feet by giving them tools to succeed. Many adults experiencing homelessness want to work but have trouble securing employment because of a criminal record or some other barrier. The state can work with local governments to provide new opportunities for our fellow Washingtonians,” said Zeiger, R-Puyallup.

The bill would also require the cities hosting the pilot program to submit a report to the Legislature that would include how many persons experiencing homelessness were hired during the pilot program, the number of persons connected with wraparound housing services, effective strategies for hiring persons experiencing homelessness for other local projects and any additional recommendations to the Legislature.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington state has a homeless population of over 21,000.